Manatee Manatee
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Manatee Migration Update: February 4, 2004

Today's Report Includes:

Welcome Aboard!
Are you ready to "dive in" and track the migration of the endangered Florida manatee? Our team of dedicated manatee scientists is back again, "by sea, land and air", ready to have you working along side them on some very important research projects.

This season, you'll be involved in satellite tracking the movements of five wild manatees with Susan Butler and Jim Reid of the Sirenia Project; taking daily manatee "roll calls" with Ranger Wayne Hartley at Blue Spring State Park; and counting manatees from airplanes with Dr. Bruce Ackerman in a statewide aerial manatee count. And Nancy Sadusky from Save the Manatee Club is also ready to field your Ask the Expert questions too. Let's get started!

Credit: Jonathan Bird, Oceanic Research Group, Inc.

Manatees are still listed as an endangered species, so being involved in manatee research has never been more important.

First Field Notes from Biologist Susan Butler
Welcome Students!
Jim Reid, Bob Bonde, Cathy Beck and I are all glad to be back again, making this the eighth year in a row working together with Journey North. We'll be satellite tracking manatees in the Ten Thousand Islands (TTI) area of SW Florida again, and today's data already shows some very interesting moves by the manatees. The new tracking data is below, but first take a minute to meet the Sirenia team and learn more about our work and the TTI research project:

Meet the Fab Five
This season, we have five wild manatees fitted with satellite tags, swimming freely, ready to be tracked by you. Two of these are males, named Belvedere and Giffer, that we just captured in the field a few short weeks ago in the Ten Thousand Islands area research area (TTI) (25.700N, -81.300W). The other three are all females, named Anna, Actual and Leslie, which have been tagged and tracked for quite a while now.
Meet the Manatees for 2004

By the way, have you ever wondered how we manage to capture, weigh, measure, examine, draw blood from, fit a tag on, and release a marine mammal that's almost half a ton? Think it through and try to answer:

Challenge Question #1:
"How do you think manatee scientists capture a manatee? Describe what equipment you think they would use, how many people it might take, and what makes a good capture site(s)?"

Challenge Question #2:
"What other reasons can you think of why scientists would capture manatees, besides attaching tracking tags?"

(To respond to these Challenge Questions, please follow the instructions below.)

First Satellite Data & Maps: Let's Get Tracking!

Latest All Manatees Migration Map
Click on Map to Enlarge

The new tracking data is below, ready for you to use in mapping and tracking the migrations of these manatees. Each manatee will have its own individual map, and there's also an "All Manatee" map, showing the movements of all the manatees. A printer-friendly Data-Only page is provided too.

Plot the latest satellite data for the manatees on your map. Tips to help with mapping and tracking the migration are provided further below in this report. (See Tips for Teachers below)

Link to Latest Data and Individual Maps:
(Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey's Sirenia Project)

Measuring Manatee Movements
After you have plotted and mapped the manatees' movements, you are able to see where and how far they have traveled. Go a step further and try to answer:

Challenge Question #3:
"Using the location data for each Manatee in January, describe:

(a) Which manatee had the greatest change in longitude? How many degrees of longitude did it travel between its eastern-most and western-most data readings?

(b) Which manatee had the greatest change in latitude? How many degrees of latitude did it travel between its northern-most and southern-most data readings? How many miles does that change in latitude represent?

(c) Why do you think manatees migrate where and when they do? What reasons can you think of?

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

That's all for now, we'll see you next week!

Susan Butler
Sirenia Project
Gainesville, FL

Field Notes from Ranger Wayne, In "the Run" at Blue Spring

Wayne's World:
Meet and Hear from Ranger Wayne

Dear Students,
Hello to all returning and new visitors to Blue Spring State Park, near Orange City, Florida. Even though we're located well inland from the ocean, along the St. Johns River, every Fall manatees show up here in a creek called "the Run". And this is where I have been studying manatees since 1979. Blue Spring is like a winter haven for manatees, so when they arrive, that's a sure sign that one season is slipping into another.

Almost every day this time of year, I take attendance or "roll call" of the manatees by paddling my canoe in the run. This year, the Blue Spring manatee season kicked off Nov. 29. Up to now, February 2, we've had a record 175 individual manatees in, and eight calves. Sixteen of our record seventeen calves from last year have returned to Blue Spring again. On December 22, 2003 we had a record roll call of 125 individual manatees, two more than the previous record set a year ago January.

I'll be back next time with more news on the manatees at Blue Spring.

Ranger Wayne Hartley

Holy Cow! What a Calf


Credit: FWC

Ranger Wayne carefully watches the number of calves each year at Blue Spring. Do you know why? You'll be able to answer our next Challenge Question when you look for clues in "Holy Cow! What a Calf":

  • Holy Cow! What a Calf

    Challenge Question #4:
    "Why is it important for Ranger Wayne to keep track of the number of calves each year? What reasons can you think of for the varying number of calves at Blue Spring each year? Why would one year be so different from the next?"

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

A Manatee Hotspot and Geological Wonder
Blue Spring is a well-known hotspot for manatees in winter, and it's a geological wonder too. The protected creek called the "Run" is actually supplied by a flow of 104 million gallons of water per day coming from an underground spring more than a hundred feet below. Learn more about Blue Spring from Ranger Wayne and Journey North's Julie Brophy. Then see if you can answer Challenge Questions 5 and 6 below:
  • What's So Hot About Blue Spring?
  • Julie's Blue Spring Field Notes

    Challenge Question #5:
    "Why do you think a mammal like a manatee migrates to the Blue Spring Run in the winter? Why do you think a record number of manatees has been counted at Blue Spring this season?"

    Challenge Question #6:
    "If the 'Boil' pushes out 104 million gallons of water per day, then how many gallons are pushed out:
    a) in two hours?
    b) in two minutes?
    c) in 30 seconds?
    d) in 10 days?
    e) How many gallons do you use on average at your house for things like taking a bath, taking a shower, doing a load of laundry, running your dishwasher, or washing a car?"

(To respond to these Challenge Questions, please follow the instructions below.)

Tips for Teachers: Are YOU Ready for the Migration?
You may want to use these lessons and tips to help students develop the mapping skills they will need to track the migration.
  • Latitude, Longitude and Distance Traveled:
    This lesson will help you get comfortable with satellite data, so you'll have a feeling for the distances involved when a manatee's latitude and longitude readings change.
  • How to Map Satellite Telemetry Data:
    This lesson includes charts with step-by-step instructions for pinpointing a manatee's latitude and longitude on a map. By putting a transparency on top of your map, a manatee's exact location can be more easily found.

A Tip to Keep Your Journey North Project Organized
A new Journey North season brings lots of excitement. Students gather information, study maps, calculate migration distances and spend time researching topics of special interest. To keep their Journey North work papers organized, it's helpful for students to create their own Portfolio folders. Take a look:

What's This? Looking Ahead
Do you know what this specially designed boat is used for? Why doesn't it have a back end? Next time we'll tell you more about it. All aboard!

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Questions:

IMPORTANT: Answer only ONE question in each e-mail message.

1. Address an e-mail message to:

2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #1, OR #2 OR #3 OR #4 OR #5 OR #6

3. In the body of EACH message, give your answer to ONE of the questions above.

The Next Manatee Migration Update Will Be Posted on February 11, 2004


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